I was reading an ancient Hebrew text on wisdom about a month ago. It is written from the perspective as if Wisdom had personhood. The stanza I read said:
Dear friend, listen well to my words;
tune your ears to my voice.
Keep my message in plain view at all times.
Concentrate! Learn it by heart!
Those who discover these words live, really live;
body and soul, they’re bursting with health.
Keep vigilant watch over your heart;
that’s where life starts.
Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;
avoid careless banter, white lies, and gossip.
Keep your eyes straight ahead;
ignore all sideshow distractions.
Watch your step,
and the road will stretch out smooth before you.
Look neither right nor left;
leave evil in the dust.
I pondered the text for a while and then like I do each morning, I wrote in my journal. Here is what I wrote: “The writer is imploring the reader to not only listen to the words of wisdom but to be attentive to the words and how they interact with life. Being aware of what I hear and also what I say is important. Stay away from talk that harms others, but also that is detrimental to society. Be attentive to where I go and who I spend time with. Who is influencing me? Or better to ask: Who am I allowing to have an influence on my life? Is it beneficial to my family, business and relationships?”
Wisdom is vital for living. If we do not exercise insight or common sense we open our lives up to the influence of others. That is not what any of us wants in life. We want to be free to make our own choices and live with the consequences. We want the flexibility and opportunity to build a life, marry ‘the one’, raise our kids, and pursue joy.
In order to do that, to pursue the life we want, we have to be willing to live with integrity. Like the writer said, “Don’t talk out of both sides of your mouth;”. This is good advice; it is Wisdom. In order to live with integrity, we have to watch what we say, how we say it and to whom it is said. Gossip and slander do not build a powerful relationship that will stand the test of time. They do not cause society or culture to flourish and grow.
Instead, gossip, slander, white lies, careless banter are all descriptors of death and a way of life I want nothing to do with. I want a life of Wisdom; a life that builds rather than tears down. A life that brings restoration rather than destruction.
In order to live that life, the writer says to, “Keep vigilant watch over your heart,”. In the ancient world, the heart was the center of a person. There was no delineation between mind and soul, they were synonymous with the word we translate as: heart.
Keep close watch over the center of your being. Your thoughts, words, and actions. Watch over those you love, guide and protect them with words of encouragement and wisdom. Be aware of who you allow influencing your life: Friends, Social Media, Main Media, Religion, Sports, and Music are powerful forces. I am not saying these are bad or negative. Like anything, it depends on how a platform is utilized. It is my responsibility to know how people and movements are affecting me, my wife and daughters.
Are you aware of who or what is influencing you? Is it a positive or negative impact on you and your relationships? Leave me a comment.